Annapolis, MD– On September 27th, 2019 the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced funding for electric school buses as part of pilot programs to improve air quality and provide immediate health benefits to children through reduced vehicle emissions for four school districts in Maryland.
“Chispa Maryland celebrates this critical milestone in cleaning up our school fleets. We will continue working with Governor Hogan, MDE, and local school districts to phase out dirty diesel school buses in Maryland to protect the health of children and advance our Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters (Maryland LCV) and Director of Chispa Maryland, community organizing program of Maryland LCV.
Volkswagen cheated federal emissions tests and polluted the air with toxins that increase respiratory illnesses and further the effects of climate change. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign. The campaign, supported by thousands of parents, students, and advocates called for using the money that Maryland received from the Volkswagen Mitigation Fund to transition diesel public school buses to zero emissions electric school buses to protect the health of students and communities, especially these in communities most affected by poor air quality.
Palencia-Calvo added, “we congratulate all the youth and allies that are working tirelessly to accelerate this transition to clean electric buses and are encouraged to see the commitment of the Hogan Administration to zero emission vehicles by financing all the electric school bus projects submitted as part of this settlement. However, at a time when every dollar in Maryland’s education system is critical, we are perplexed by the fact that school districts left $2.1 million unclaimed.”
After this first round of funding, about $2.1 million remains available for school bus projects. MDE intends to open this funding for new proposals in spring 2020. Chispa Maryland will continue advocating to use these funds for zero emissions school buses.
Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, is a program of Maryland League of Conservation Voters launched in 2014. Chispa Maryland has been working to ensure that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting the environment, our health, and our future. Chispa works with Latino families, community groups, faith-based organizations, and legislators to identify and address unique environmental issues facing Latino communities in Maryland.